My sons will laugh themselves silly to hear this, but I was way too technological traveling back to Oaxaca from Dallas this week. It took five plastic bins on the security belt to hold my stuff, because I kept having to remove yet another item from my carry-on bag. Used to be that I could get away with just removing my laptop and iPad, but no more.
When I thought I’d left my Mexican cell phone and iPod on the security belt in Mexico City, where I was changing airlines, terminals and planes, I was in for a total of two passes through the security line, frantic conversations with five officials, and three fruitless searches through my carry-on and over-sized purse.
Back in el norte I have a normal amount of technological accessories, but in Mexico it seemed ridiculous: laptop, iPad, iPod, two cell phones (1 with a Mexican Telcel chip, one with a U.S. AT&T chip), a new Fitbit bracelet and charger, two 30-pin cables to work with my old stuff, three others to work with the new, two laptop cables, a Bluetooth earbud and charger, and external hard drive which for some reason always causes a fuss in the security line. Oh, and an old-school camera and my meds had to come out too. This while the nice security official wanted to try out her English on me while passing my bag back through the line several times.
The travel jewelry case – which used to be my dad’s fly-fishing lure tackle box – gave her some issue, as did my two accordion files of paper documents (since I still work full-time, I’m a traveling office every trip back and forth). I figured I’d give José a call to let him know I’d arrived in Mexico City and would probably be on time to Oaxaca. Though I knew to punch in an additional 01 to make a call from the capital, the call wouldn’t go through on my U.S. cell. I reached in my carry-on to get the Mexican one (I remembered I’d put it in the outside pocket this morning at 6 a.m.), but no dice.
I rifled through the carry-on and then went through my purse three times. Went to the back door of two security entrances because I couldn’t remember where I’d entered. Asked all the very helpful policía if they’d found a black esmart fone. They had, but not mine. Even exited the security area to retrace my steps where I had to take it all out again. Still no go.
Somehow in one more pass through my purse, I found the Mexican cell where I’d relocated it after the first purse purge, along with the iPod and Bluetooth earbud. Had to go buy Telcel minutes at the airport 7-11 to use it, but it did indeed work to call Pépé.
After the fracas, I picked up a Subway sandwich to eat at one of the tables with phone rechargers. A sweet-faced nun asked if she could join me, confiding that she was starving and couldn’t wait to eat her own Subway sandwich. I opened mine – I did get turkey but apparently someone else’s vegs as I hadn’t ordered cucumbers or jalapeños, but at this point I was in a zen zone and didn’t care. Sister Pany (Francesca or Panchita, Pany for short) was from Guadajalara and highly interested in my work as a contractual webpage content writer for the Dallas Community College District. She marveled at the district’s more than 75 career programs, especially the medical ones. Thought she might could have been a nurse if she hadn’t become a nun. Or maybe a sonogram technician.
So even a layover of five hours in Mexico City wasn’t enough time to prevent me from having a meltdown of technology. Or maybe I am just getting old and weird as my son David remarked recently when I was panicking over something else I couldn’t find. I do check and recheck my purse and passport several times at each location before I leave it, though I’ll start really worrying if I have to touch the doorknob three times before leaving the house.
The rest of the trip was pan comido, though why it’s easy as pie in English and easy as eaten bread in Spanish, I don’t know. I had my usual interesting airport encounters, including a group of Mennonites in Mexico City playing on the moving walkway, the girls pulling each other by their bonnets. And a couple sitting across from me as stoically as American Gothic without the pitchfork.
My seatmate to Oaxaca, Lois, was a former teacher from Oregon who had learned to weave and spin in the hippie heydays of the 70s and who was coming down for a week of fiber and weaving observation. She and her husband, who grows heirloom fruit trees for the FDA, have a farm where she raises sheep, rabbits and llamas for their wool, and they’ve built a classroom so she can teach weaving and spinning so they don’t become lost arts. (I had taken several photos at Waco’s Homestead Heritage a few weeks ago when I was visiting my son, to show the ladies in Teotitlán del Valle that textile arts still exist in the U.S.) Lois mentioned casually that more than one person in her class has brought their dog’s hair to weave into a very personal garment.
I waved goodbye to Lois in Oaxaca’s tiny baggage claim, broke out into the miniscule waiting area where Pépé was waiting for me as he has every trip back these seven years, and paid the new automated parking ticket machine to exit the airport parking lot. Thankfully, there was no blockade at the airport entrance or beyond as had been rumored the week before by the federal health workers.
Hey, technology bit me in the rear this trip, but at least I got to have lunch with a nun.
— Susan Bean Aycock, embracingthechaos.org